PHILADELPHIA – A man who faked being a doctor, an astronaut and a spy to dates he met online was convicted Wednesday of two counts of sexual assault but acquitted of raping several women who accused him of drugging them.
Seven women, six of whom Jeffrey J. Marsalis met through the Match.com dating site, told similar stories of blacking out or becoming unusually intoxicated during dates from 2003 to 2005.
The jury reached its verdict on the fifth day of deliberations that were so contentious jurors were overheard shouting at each other earlier in the week. He was acquitted of eight rape counts and a count of impersonating a public servant.
Marsalis could get up to 20 years in prison for the two sexual assault counts at sentencing, set for Sept. 18. The jury could not reach a verdict on one rape count.
Prosecutors said Marsalis, 34, of Philadelphia, was a smooth talker with a tony address and a penchant for chic bars and restaurants. The on-and-off nursing student spun tales about being a doctor, an astronaut or a secret agent.
The women, most of them well-educated professionals, gave authorities similar accounts of meeting Marsalis and then feeling unusually intoxicated after returning from the bathroom or letting him buy a round of drinks from the bar. They testified they woke up hours later at his apartment — groggy, sometimes undressed — after an apparent sexual encounter or even amid intercourse.
Marsalis' lawyer said the women were suffering from "buyer's remorse" after being duped about his accomplishments and dumped after consensual sex. Defense attorney Kathleen E. Martin said none of the victims went to police or a hospital afterward and were only sought out by police as part of an earlier case against Marsalis.
Marsalis was acquitted of three similar assaults in January 2006 and immediately charged in the latest cases. Another rape charge is pending against him in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Records show Marsalis has moved frequently, having lived in Park City, Utah; the Phoenix area, where he worked as a paramedic; a Seattle suburb; and South Florida.